Militants possibly targeting U.S. oil firms in Jakarta


JAKARTA, Indonesia -- The Jemaah Islamiyah extremist network, accused of bombing nightclubs in Bali and the Marriott hotel in Jakarta, is suspected of planning attacks on U.S. oil companies and other targets in the Indonesian capital.

A confidential document reviewed by The Los Angeles Times indicated that among the targets on the group's list are the Jakarta headquarters of Halliburton, a company once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney; Exxon-Mobil; and Unocal. Indonesian police officials warned seven U.S. companies last month that their names were on a list of potential targets uncovered during a raid on the house of suspected Jemaah Islamiyah members in the central Java city of Semarang.

During the raid, investigators found 1 ton of explosives and uncovered evidence that Jemaah Islamiyah was planning to bomb targets in the district of Jakarta where the JW Marriott was located. At the time, police did not identify the Marriott as a target and were unable to prevent an attack Tuesday that killed 11 people and injured about 150.

Indonesian police and U.S. officials declined to discuss any potential targets of the group, but the U.S. State Department issued an advisory Friday warning Americans of the danger of new attacks in Indonesia.

"The U.S. government believes extremist elements may be planning additional attacks targeting U.S. interests in Indonesia, particularly U.S. government officials and facilities," the State Department said.

Asmar Latin Sani, who drove the van loaded with explosives to the Marriott, was identified yesterday as a former student at Al Mukmin, the central Java school that has been a breeding ground for the Jemaah Islamiyah movement.

Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, a co-founder of the school, has been identified by authorities as the spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiyah. He is being tried in Jakarta on charges of treason. Authorities allege that he approved a series of church bombings and plotted the assassination of President Megawati Sukarnoputri.

About 3,000 people rallied yesterday in support of Bashir in the central Java city of Solo. One of his followers delivered a speech on his behalf in which the cleric demanded that Indonesia adopt Islamic law.

"Muslim people, do not be afraid of being called a terrorist or a fundamentalist," Bashir said in the speech.

Authorities say that Jemaah Islamiyah is affiliated with the al-Qaida terrorist network and that it also was responsible for the Bali nightclub bombing in October that killed 202 people, most of them foreign tourists.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper. Times staff writer Sari Sudarsono in Jakarta contributed to this article.

Copyright © 2020, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad